As we reported earlier this week, the FCC just released its report and order about the revitalization of AM and its recommendations have implications for low power FM (LPFM) radio stations. One of the policy changes involves expanding the reach of AM stations through FM translators. This would lead to the opening up of an application window for AM license holders to move an existing translator station (up to 250 miles) and would additionally open up another application window for construction permits for new FM translators.
This could mean some competition for LPFM stations and could also make it less likely that there will be another application window for new LPFM licenses. Michelle Bradley of REC Networks breaks down the suggested changes, calling it “good and bad news for LPFM.” As far as good news, she argues that,
Since this will be a closed opportunity where the window is limited to AM applicants only and limited to only one translator per AM facility, we will not see the same land rush we experienced in 2003 with the Great Translator Invasion. This means that there still may be some wiggle room after the windows for your station to be able to grow to LP-250 if the FCC ever accepts either our proposal in RM-11749 or our “Plan B” proposal in comments for RM-11753.”
As far as bad news, Bradley states that “there are no plans for a filing window for new translators for LPFM stations at this time” and that “…LPFM stations will have less flexibility for moves.”
LPFM Launches from Volunteer Fire Department
In other LPFM news, we learned of a few more stations hitting the air, including one run by a volunteer fire department in Simsbury, Connecticut. The Hartford Courant writes about WSIM-LP, which not only airs emergency messages, but will also feature firefighter DJs from the Simsbury Volunteer Fire Department. According to the Courant, “The idea for the radio station was born from the October 2011 snowstorm, when the fire department was unable to communicate important messages to people stuck in their homes, Fire Marshal Kevin Kowalski said.”
KZSO-LP Getting Bumped by Commercial Broadcaster
The Nugget Newspaper reports that LPFM station KZSO-LP in Sisters, Oregon is being forced off its spot on the dial by a full power station. According to the article, “The local low-power community radio station…lost its frequency to a commercial radio station based out of Sunriver. Michael Richards, general manager of KZSO…explained: ‘The bottom line is that commercial stations trump the low-power FM license.'” KZSO shut down its FM broadcast after its signal was overpowered by the commercial broadcaster and for the time being it plans to continue streaming online. Its Facebook page points out that it is being asked to move frequencies from 94.9 FM to 106.5 FM.
KOWS on the Move in Sebastopol
Existing California LPFM station KOWS-LP is moving from Occidental to Sebastopol, according to the North Bay Bohemian. According to the article, “The community station has been broadcasting for eight years and serves both as quirky cultural redoubt and as the area’s go-to emergency broadcast system. It has become a destination of sorts for touring bands working the San Francisco to Portland thoroughfare…”